Hawaii Rocks and Minerals

Hawaii’s official state gem is black coral, designated in 1987.

Hawaii does not have an official state mineral or state rock.

The state of Hawaii is actually 137 volcanic islands that comprise almost the entire Hawaiian archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

The islands were formed by volcanic activity and new islands continue to be formed. The major islands are volcanic domes formed of basaltic lava cut by erosion into ridges and valleys, and marked in places by coral reefs. The islands show craters and other marks of former volcanic activity. On the southern part of the largest island, known as Hawaii or The Big Island, there are two of the world’s largest active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa emerged above sea level about 400,000 years ago and its most recent eruption began on November 27, 2022, and ended on December 13, 2022. Kilauea is located along the southeastern shore of The Big Island. This volcano grew above sea level about 100,000 years ago. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. The most recent eruption lasted one week in September 2023. The newest volcano, Kamaʻehuakanaloa (formerly Lōʻihi), is south of the coast of The Big Island.

Since the islands are geologically very young and mostly made up of different kinds of lava, there are not many rocks and minerals found there.

Rocks found on the Hawaiian Islands include peridot, olivine, and obsidian that are formed in volcanic rocks. Clear quartz, rose quartz, and smoky quartz can be found in riverbeds, beaches, and in weathered volcanic rocks. Some colorful jaspers have been found on several islands. Bright yellow sulfur deposits can be found near volcanic vents and fumaroles. And sunstone is found in beach sand on some of the islands.

If you plan to rockhound in Hawaii, please do your research. Familiarize yourself with the state and local laws and regulations regarding rockhounding activities to ensure you stay within the legal boundaries. Many good rockhounding areas are now in protected lands, on private property with no access, or built over. Some areas can still be collected in, but you may need a special permit. Remember you must have permission to collect on private property.

See my page on Rockhounding Rules for general information on the rules of collecting rocks on various lands. 

And don’t forget the popular believe in “Pele’s curse,”. Pele, the Goddess of the Hawaiian Volcanoes has supposedly issued a curse that bad luck will follow anyone who takes lava rocks or sand from Hawaii as souvenirs!